Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Child sexual abuse royal commission update

Catholic Church official visits clergy and educators in Shepparton and Mooroopna.

ESTELLE GRIEPINK May 24, 2014 3:44am

Our Lady of Sacred Heart Church Elmore's Father Peter-John Neivandt, St Brendan's Primary School Shepparton principal Paula Stevenson, St Mary's Catholic Church Mooroopna's Father Joseph Luka, Truth Justice and Healing Council chief executive Francis Sullivan and Catholic Education director Philomena Billington.

The chief executive of a council representing the Catholic Church in the child sexual abuse royal commission has told local priests the issue has ‘‘been shrouded in silence for too long.’’

The Truth, Justice and Healing Council’s Francis Sullivan was in Shepparton this week to meet with more than 50 Catholic clergy and educators from across the Sandhurst Diocese.

Representatives from St Brendan’s Catholic Church in Shepparton, St Luke’s Catholic Primary School, Shepparton, and St Mary’s Catholic Church in Mooroopna were among those who attended.

Mr Sullivan said he visited Shepparton to update church leaders and educators about the progress of the royal commission and their potential roles in the inquiry.

‘‘I spoke about how to prepare if the royal commission needs information from the Sandhurst Diocese, and the type of reforms that will be needed in the future for child protection,’’ he said.

Mr Sullivan said after his speech at the Monsignor Peter Jeffrey Centre, there was an open discussion with many questions from the audience.

‘‘There was a very clear understanding that the royal commission is essential and is about the church ’fessing up, not being defensive, and putting the interests of the victims first,’’ he said.

‘‘People were asking lots of questions and were wondering what the next stage of reform would be in order to keep schoolchildren safe ... we also talked about the type of compensation that will be required so that people can pick up their lives again.’’

Mr Sullivan said he was pleased to be able to visit Shepparton and speak with local church leaders face-to-face about the royal commission.

‘‘The idea is to be up-front because you don’t deal with these things in a subdued way,’’ he said.

‘‘Some of the conversations can be very confronting, but the nature of this issue is that it’s been left in the dark for too long.’’

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